an article by Shadow

Does it really matter to you?
(The whispered words came to me through the trees as I sat meditating. I had mentally gone to a familiar grove to ponder my beliefs in reincarnation. Now it seems I was not alone.)
Does what really matter? I asked
What the truth is about reincarnation.
The truth doesn't really matter as much as what I truly believe. After all, I cannot find out what the truth is until I die.
An interesting perspective
(there was a long pause)
How can I address you, what is your name?
(another pause and a little chuckle)
You may call me Jessie
What is your opinion then, Jessie?
I know the truth, so I do not need to question.
Are you a spirit that has passed over?
Then how is it that you know the truth?
We were talking about your beliefs, were we not? Tell me what truths you hold.
I believe that the spirit or soul is eternal. It is a small part of the "Divine Ones" and it is not destroyed when the body dies. It is released to another plane of existence. In this other plane, a spirit is renewed, and can review what it has learned in it's last lifetime. The spirit is not bound by time or space and can sometimes watch over those who are still on the Earthly plane. After a while, the spirit decides where it will be reborn, and what lessons can be learned during the next lifetime. This rebirth is usually with other spirits that are known and loved. But I don't believe each life is totally predestined. It may have a recurring theme or it may keep coming into a similar situation, but not all is planned.
You'll need to explain that a little
It's rather like a tree. You plant an Oak tree and you know you'll get an oak tree, but you don't know where each branch will grow or how many leaves it will have, or how tall it will be. You only know that it will be an oak tree.
An interesting perspective.
You already said that.
Go on, why do you hold this as truth?
I find examples in nature itself. For millions of years things have been evolving on the Earth. I think reincarnation is the evolution of the spirit. There is a saying, "as above, so below," and this is where I take the example from.
You don't believe in Heaven and Hell, then?
No, I objected to it when I was a kid in Christian Sunday school. How can you worship a "God of Love" and say we are all His children, then turn around and say that most of the world's population is going to burn forever. This isn't the kind of love I wanted, or the God I knew.
What about Heaven?
Well, I think the place where souls rest between incarnations is like summerland, or heaven. It is a beautiful garden that offers rest and refreshment to the spirit. There you can commune with the Goddess and the God and be safe from troubles for a while. But I don't think you could all of a sudden get lazy and spend eternity just sitting around playing harps or something.
Just where do you spend eternity then?
In many places. First you need to go through the cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth. once you have evolved into a wonderful, enlightened soul, you could go on to other exciting things. The Goddess loves variety, so who knows what She will have in mind. I'm just sure it will be fantastic.
So once you become "Wonder Spirit", you go to another plane of existence?
Wonder Spirit, that's good.
I don't know what happens after you don't need to go through the cycles anymore. I will just need to trust in the Goddess.
Perhaps you can become a teacher for a while and help other souls.
I suppose so, are you a teacher?
Tell me more about your beliefs.
I've read about the beliefs of other religions and some of it I can accept, but a lot of it I can't.
Go on.
Well, take the Buddists for example. I don't know very much about them, but they seem to want to go through various lives of suffering until they reach a state called Nirvana where they don't suffer any more. Life may not always  be enjoyable, but I don't think it could be all suffering. I like to find the joys of life. They also do not seem to revere any deity. From what I gather, they believe in a Universal Consciousness which seems to absorb the righteous spirit when it isn't suffering anymore.
You are right, you don't know much about it.
I do accept the concept of Karma though, the theory of cause and effect.
Yes, I know about karma.
I also like their beliefs in the Eight Paths. The right view, the right thought, the right speech, the right action, the right livelihood, the right effort, the right mindfulness, and the right concentration. These seem to be good focus for trying to improve yourself.
Go on, what about the Hindu beliefs.
They too seem to desire to get to a state where you don't have any earthly desires.  They have 4 stages of life called Ashramas. The Student, the House Holder, the Forest Dweller, and the Life of Reincarnation. The last stage is where you renounce all earthly desires and try to live spiritually on Earth. It seems to me to put the cart before the horse. They do believe that the spirit remains individual in each lifetime, though. Not like the Buddhists. That sort of agrees with my views. Also, they believe in Karma.
What of the Christians. You were once a Christian, were you not?
Yes, I was, how did you know that?
You said you went to Christian Sunday school.
Oh yeah. Anyway, many Christians really do believe in reincarnation, even thought their church tells them it is a sin. In fact, I read that it was a popular belief among the early Christians until the Church decided it was heresy. I think that was back in 553. Many Jewish people believed in reincarnation too. Some still do. I read that many Jews were very especially upset about the holocaust, because they believed that you return to those you love and when whole villages or towns were wiped out, there was a difficulty on where the spirits could return to. It is very sad.
What about animals, do you believe they have souls?
I believe they have souls but I don't know if I believe they will evolve to become humans. They seem to have a kind of perfection already. This is true of dogs, cats, and any other animal that has conscious thought and can make decisions outside of their instincts. There is already a purity of spirit about them, so why would they "come down" to a human level. I just don't know. It doesn't seem like it is right to me, but I don't dismiss the idea altogether.
Do you follow a certain religious belief then?
Yes, I am Wiccan. Their views on many things are varied, yet generally similar. Each person is taught to find their own path. What religion do you follow?
Thought you could just sneak that one in, did you?
Well, tell me a little about you. Who are you? What are you, Jessie? If you know about reincarnation, have I been right in any of my views?
I will tell you that I am a teacher.
What do you teach?
Things like caring for others more than you care for yourself, like finding your inner strength, like the joys in living every day and finding happiness sharing your day. Many things.
Who have you been teaching? How have you been teaching? Are you a ghost?
(I heard a kind of choking sound and realized Jessie was laughing)
No, I am not a ghost. At this moment I have a human body, but it is dying. I have heard the voices say I am in a coma.
Yet, your spirit is here on this plane, with me, while I meditate?
Yes, my soul is unlocking from my physical body and the gnomes are gathering.
What? I'm not sure I understand.
When I was born, my soul came into my physical body and began to lock into it. Like threads, my spirit joined with the body, into its very fibers. My spirit memories diminished and the gnomes danced with joy because another soul descended into the earthly plane. Now, my spirit is unlocking, and the gnomes are preparing to change my soulless body into that of the earth.
Do not be sad for me, little one, I have done all I intended to do when I came. This brings me joy.
How can you know that? Is your spirit very old?
As my spirit unlocks, the memories return. I have been dying slowly, so they return slowly, and yes I guess you could say I am an old spirit.
Since you have your memories, can you tell me if I've been right about anything?
I will say this to you: two of your statements were complete truths. The others I will not comment upon. First you said, "the truth doesn't matter as much as what I truly believe" This is a profound statement. For it is your beliefs that drive your actions. It is what you will aspire to. It is what will guide your life. The second is that you you follow your own path. This is a good thing, so try to be tolerant of others and their beliefs. It is our conduct-not our creed that is the way of true spiritual progress. The path can be guided by many, but ultimately it must be walked alone.
Can you tell me anything else before you go?
Only this: Love comes from the sacred well of the Goddess. When your actions are done "with" this love, you can give it freely to anyone or anything, because it doesn't require anything from them in return. The return is karmic, bountiful, and of the Goddess. So give freely, as it is given to you. I must go now.
Goodbye, Jessie, and thank you.
(the word faded away and I sat in the grove for a moment trying to take in all that we had spoken about. I finally returned and grounded myself back into the physical. I was touched by this incredible experience. The following morning, the whole event came back in a flash, when I accidentally found the notice in the newspaper.)

Farewell Jessie, 'til we meet again.